LESOTHO'S population breached the two million mark for the first time in the country's history, the preliminary results of the 2016 Population and Housing Census (PHC) show.
The results of the 2016 census which were announced by the Ministry of Development Planning this week showed a 6.8 percent growth rate to 2 008 801, up from 1 876 633 recorded in the 2006 census.
"The population of Lesotho as of 10 April 2016 was 2 008 801 while that of 2006 was 1 876 633," said Maneo Phakisi of the Bureau of Statistics.
She further revealed that Lesotho had a young population (39.6 percent of the total population) of which there were 403 000 males and 391 940 females.
There was a population increase in all districts except for Mafeteng, Mohale's Hoek and Quthing.
The average population density of the country was found to be 66 persons per square kilometre and 349.8 people per square kilometre of arable land.
The Minister of Development Planning, Tlohelang Aumane, said the results would play a key role in determining the needs of the public.
"It is my hope that, the indicators will show the extent to which the gap exists for the nation to access some basic needs," Mr Aumane said, adding, "These could be in the form of access to clean water, adequate sanitation facilities, electricity, telephones or schools".
"The results will provide us with benchmarks against which our performance as government and the nation should be measured, especially in tracking our performance in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2063, SADC RISDP and other developmental initiatives."
For her part, the United Nations Population Fund Representative, Nuzhat Ehsan, congratulated Lesotho for holding the first digital census in the sub-region under the auspices of the United Nations 2020 round of population censuses.
"The release of the key results of the census couldn't have come at a more opportune moment for Lesotho which has embarked on the development of the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II).
"The most up-to-date population-related indicators will be used to facilitate the formulation of the NSDP II. The new data from the census will also help us strategise actions to ensure domestication and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
"We are proud that Lesotho has been the first country within the 2020 round of censuses to conduct a digital population and housing census using hand held mobile devices (Android Tablets) for full implementation of the census. I hope the Bureau of Statistics will share the experiences with other countries so that they can build upon such experiences when they conduct their own censuses," Ms Ehsan said.